Carol Ann Duffy’s Poem for the Centenary of the Armistice to be Read on Beaches Around Britain, 11 November 2018

A nationwide beach event organised by director Danny Boyle to commemorate the centenary of the end of the First World War will take place tomorrow, 11 November, Armistice Day. Danny Boyle has also commissioned a new poem by Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, The Wound In Timewhich will be read on the beaches:


It is the wound in Time. The century’s tides,
chanting their bitter psalms, cannot heal it.
Not the war to end all wars; death’s birthing place;
the earth nursing its ticking metal eggs, hatching
new carnage. But how could you know, brave
as belief as you boarded the boats, singing?
The end of God in the poisonous, shrapneled air.
Poetry gargling its own blood. We sense it was love
you gave your world for; the town squares silent,
awaiting their cenotaphs. What happened next?
War. And after that? War. And now? War. War.
History might as well be water, chastising this shore;
for we learn nothing from your endless sacrifice.
Your faces drowning in the pages of the sea.

Carol Ann Duffy, 2018

(All rights reserved.)

Members of the public are invited to assemble at any one of dozens of beaches around the UK on 11 November to hear the new poem, and perhaps other poetry. Visitors to each location will also see a large-scale portrait of a casualty from the war drawn into the sand at low tide and washed away as the tide comes in.

These events may be of particular interest to those who attended the WPA’s and Eyewitness Tours’ battlefields tour to the Western Front last month and will have heard the Association’s Chairman, David Worthington, reading Carol Ann Duffy’s new poem and explaining about Boyle’s forthcoming event on many beaches around Britain. To find where the nearest event will take place on a beach near you, or read more about what is happening, visit the The Pages of the Sea project website and map.

These events, named Pages of the Sea, are part of 14-18 NOW, Britain’s official Arts programme to mark the centenary of the First World War.